Truck accidents can be some of the deadliest types of road incidents in St. Petersburg, Florida, especially when they occur due to unsecured loads. Florida’s towing vehicles often carry heavy or even hazardous loads that can cause devastating consequences for truck accident victims.
If you’ve been involved in a St. Petersburg truck accident, you could be facing serious injuries and a complex legal situation. Here at The Law Place, we can help you to take legal action against individual truck drivers, trucking companies, manufacturers, and more. Our truck accident attorneys are also qualified personal injury lawyers, so we can also help you to win the compensation you deserve.
We’re offering a free case evaluation and free consultation to all new clients. Call today to receive yours on (941) 444-4444.
Florida Laws Regarding Truck Loads
The law on Florida truck accidents includes regulations such as:
- Aside from sand and grit vehicles, a vehicle carrying a load must be designed and suited for this purpose to prevent any of the load from becoming dislodged in order to comply with Florida Statute 316.520.
- According to Florida Statute 316.525, it is every driver’s duty to do everything possible to ensure that their vehicle load stays secure, including using proper ties, following towing laws, and ensuring that their vehicle does not exceed load limits.
- Drivers must ensure that they are following load limits depending on the weight, width, and height of their vehicle. More information about specific loading and towing limits based on vehicle weight and size can be found in Florida Statute 316.535.
- If law enforcement suspects that a vehicle is exceeding load limits, they can require a driver to travel to the nearest weigh station in order to check compliance with the law.
Types of License Needed to Carry Loads in St. Petersburg, Florida
In addition, according to the department of Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, drivers will need to ensure that they have the correct license for their total vehicle weight, which include:
- Class E license – This license covers any non-commercial vehicle weighing up to 26,001 lbs.
- Class A license – If a vehicle weighs over 26,0001 lbs. and you are towing a load over 10,000 lbs, a motorist will need a Class A license in addition to completing written knowledge tests and skills tests.
- Class B license – A Class B license is designed for drivers whose straight vehicle weight exceeds 26,001 lbs.
- Class C license – A driver will need a Class C license if they intend to tow or carry hazardous materials or more than 16 passengers.
Furthermore, drivers may need specific endorsements on their licenses in order to carry certain types of load. These include:
- (H) Placard Hazmat – This is applicable for any drivers who carry potentially dangerous or toxic vehicle loads.
- (T) Double/Triple Trailers – After a driver has completed a test to tow trailer loads, they will need to carry this endorsement on their license in order to do this legally.
- (P) Passengers – If a driver’s vehicle load includes passengers, they will need to pass a specific test required for this purpose as well as carrying a P endorsement on their driver’s license.
Who Could Be Liable for a Truck Accident With Unsecured Loads?
Despite the laws and regulations surrounding truck loads in St. Petersburg, truck accidents can and do occur on a regular basis within the State of Florida. This can be due to an accidental unforeseen circumstance or due to truck drivers willfully disregarding the law.
In truck accident cases, an attorney (as well as a jury if your case is brought to a court of law) will be responsible for determining who can be held liable for the incident. This liable party will then be responsible for paying for any damages caused.
The liable party for a truck accident in St. Petersburg could be:
A Truck Driver
A truck driver could be responsible for any truck accidents if they:
- Fail to take proper rest breaks.
- Exceed the speed limit.
- Swerve or weaving dangerously in and out of traffic.
- Drive recklessly.
- Drive whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol. – According to Florida Statute 316.193, drivers are considered ‘over the limit’ if they have a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or above or if they are impaired by any controlled or illegal substance as found in Florida Statute 893.03.
Commercial Trucking Companies
Commercial trucking companies could be held liable or share liability for a truck accident if they:
- Hired an underage driver.
- Failed to check the qualifications of their drivers.
- Required their drivers to remain on the road for a long time without rest breaks.
- Required their drivers to exceed loading or towing limits.
- Failed to conduct proper safety checks such as inspecting the equipment used to secure the load.
- Hired a driver who did not have the correct driver’s license or license endorsement for the type of load they are required to carry.
- Failing to have a valid USDOT number from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
If it can be proved that a manufacturer provided faulty equipment to a commercial truck company or a driver towing a load, they could be held liable for any accident that may occur. This could be the case, for example, if a manufacturer sold inadequate ties or load-securing equipment which caused the vehicle load to become dislodged, causing a truck accident.
Other Drivers or Pedestrians
There are many cases where a truck driver could be completely innocent. Other drivers or pedestrians could cause a truck accident where a load becomes loose by:
- Driving recklessly on the road.
- Attempting to pass a load-carrying truck dangerously or without proper space to do so.
- Sitting in a truck’s blind spot.
- Jaywalking or behaving unsafely around a road or highway.
- Driving whilst intoxicated or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Falling asleep at the wheel.
- Becoming distracted by passengers in their vehicle, other drivers, or due to checking their cell phone.
What Compensation Could I Receive for My Truck Accident?
You have several options when it comes to claiming compensation for your injuries following a truck accident. These options come from your own insurance cover, the insurance cover of the at-fault driver, or from pursuing legal action against the person responsible for your accident.
The exact amount of compensation you may achieve depends on a variety of factors, including:
- The severity of your injuries.
- The percentage of liability you share for the accident.
- Whether property damage was also caused.
- The extent of your insurance coverage.
- The insurance coverage of the at-fault driver.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance
In Florida, every driver is required to possess a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance in accordance with Florida Statute 627.736. This is designed to cover an initial amount of compensation for any injuries and damage if you get into an auto accident, whether or not you were at fault.
If you possess the minimum $10,000 coverage, your PIP insurance will cover:
- 60% of your lost wages if your earning potential is affected as a direct result of your injuries. You will need to submit a ‘Wage and Salary’ form filled out by your employer in order to keep an accurate record of any absence and any loss of income.
- $8,000 of medical bills for serious injuries. Serious injuries include head or brain damage, damage to an organ, and injuries which cause significant disfiguration.
- $2,500 of medical bills for less severe injuries.
- $5,000 of wrongful death benefits if the policyholder is killed in an accident.
Bodily Injury Coverage
If the driver who caused your truck accident has bodily injury insurance, you may be able to receive an amount of compensation depending on their level of coverage. This type of insurance covers:
- Lost wages due to recovering from an injury caused by the truck accident.
- Medical bills.
- Funeral expenses.
- Legal fees.
Filing a Claim Against the At-Fault Driver
If you’ve been seriously injured in a truck accident, your PIP cover will likely be insufficient. If this is the case, you can work with a truck accident attorney to file a claim against the person who caused your accident.
This process involves a negotiation between your truck accident lawyer and the legal representation of the other party in order to reach an agreed settlement amount to be awarded to you. The benefits of filing a personal injury claim as opposed to pursuing a lawsuit include:
- More privacy – Settling out of court is a more private and discreet process. Once your case goes to trial, the details will be made public.
- Lower cost – Truck accident attorneys can be expensive to work with. It takes far longer to prepare a personal injury lawsuit than it does to file a claim outside of court. This, in addition to the litigation process, can add a lot of extra costs.
- Quicker process – It can take up to 2-3 years for truck accident cases to appear before a court of law. This can be a time-consuming and stressful process.
Filing a Lawsuit Against the At-Fault Driver
If the legal representative of the at-fault driver offers you a settlement amount you are unsatisfied with, you can work with a truck accident attorney to file a personal injury lawsuit. Your truck accident case will then be brought before a jury and a judge to determine total damages as well as how these will be awarded.
Usually, the amount of compensation awarded in court will be higher than an out-of-court settlement amount. In addition to medical expenses, lost wages, and legal fees, you can also receive non-economic benefits such as pain and suffering and loss of consortium.
How Can a St. Petersburg Truck Accident Attorney Help Me?
It’s important to work with the right legal professional to help you navigate the complex Florida legal system and to help you win the right level of compensation for your case.
Truck accident attorneys can help you with many essential services, including:
Helping to Gather Evidence to Support Your Claim
A truck accident attorney will be able to use the evidence you’ve collected, as well as finding new sources of evidence to support your claim. For example, they could look at:
- Witness testimonies.
- Surveillance footage.
- Photographs or videos taken by others.
- Event Data Recorders (EDRs) – An EDR is essentially the ‘black box’ of a truck. It records information such as vehicle speed, length between rest breaks, engine faults, whether brakes were applied, and more. These can provide valuable details into the cause of an accident.
Communicating With Insurance Companies on Your Behalf
It’s always a good idea to seek legal advice and to work with a St. Petersburg truck accident lawyer when dealing with any insurance companies who may be involved in your case. This is because there are a variety of legal loopholes an insurance company could use in order to avoid paying you the full amount of compensation you deserve.
For example, an insurance provider may ask you if you feel ok after the accident. Many people respond to this question in the affirmative to be polite. However, this is something that could be later used against you and may actually jeopardize your claim.
Working with a truck accident lawyer will make sure that you don’t do anything to harm your claim. They’ll be able to liaise with an insurance company on your behalf and also fill in any necessary paperwork.
Filing a Claim or Lawsuit
If your medical bills and damage expenses exceed your own insurance coverage, truck accident lawyers will be able to help you pursue further compensation by filing a claim or a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
This is not something you’ll be able to do on your own, as personal injury law and courtroom litigation require a specific set of legal skills. So, always make sure to check the qualifications and case experience of any St. Petersburg truck accident attorney.
Contact The Law Place to Work With a Truck Accident Attorney
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident in St. Petersburg, Florida, protect your rights by getting in touch with a truck accident lawyer here at The Law Place.
The Law Place is a Florida law firm with over 75 years of experience defending personal injury clients in St. Petersburg and the wider State. We work tirelessly, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to help you win compensation for your injuries and hold the person for your accident legally accountable for their actions. You could receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Don’t suffer alone. Call today for a free consultation with one of our experienced truck accident lawyers on (941) 444-4444.